Seems like it’s been an age since the last Premier League match but they’re back following the FA Cup fixtures.
On Saturday, struggling Chelsea host Bolton Wanderers. There is definitely something wrong at Stamford Bridge, and for me, it’s the manager; not necessarily his tactics, but his team selection. Andre Villas-Boas is a big fan of playing Raul Meireles in the centre of midfield, but the summer signing just isn’t performing in a blue shirt. The risk of this is that he is leaving the highly experienced duo of Frank Lampard and Michael Essien on the bench; two key players for the Blues. However, everything isn’t cushdy for Bolton either. Although they are having a decent run in the FA Cup, the Trotters find themselves 19th in the league table without a win in February. Their lack of goals is also worrying for Owen Coyle and a 2-1 loss to Wigan Athletic in their last home match was not what the manager ordered. Chelsea are without a win in five matches in all competitions, but I think they should end that run tomorrow.
Saturday’s other matches include: Newcastle v Wolves, QPR v Fulham, West Brom v Sunderland, Wigan v Aston Villa and Man.City play Blackburn in the late kick-off.
It’s the North London derby on Sunday as Arsenal entertain Tottenham Hotspur. Thierry Henry’s last-minute winner away to Sunderland a fortnight ago really put the Gunners back in contention for Champions League qualification. However, a less convincing performance in the FA Cup against Sunderland and a European thrashing to AC Milan has added pressure on manager Arsene Wenger. There is no doubt Spurs are having a great season. Ten points above London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea and only seven behind leaders Manchester City. The key to Tottenham’s success;: their best players are performing and in particular Emmanuel Adebayor – the former Gunner hitman – who will be looking to score against his former club. A very close match to predict and Arsenal’s home advantage should earn them a draw.
Tony Pulis’ Stoke City host Welsh side Swansea City at the Britannia Stadium. Despite their recent exit from the Europa League, City have won just the one Premier League match this year and scored only a worrying four goals. They are missing Robert Huth’s presence at the back and now Rory Delap will serve a suspension for his red card in the FA Cup – there goes the long throw-ins then. For me, Stoke’s problem of late has been their goalkeeper. Since Thomas Sorensen has taken over Asmir Begovic between the sticks, the Potters have conceded more than usual and his latest two errors in the league games to West Bromwich Albion and Fulham have cost them points. On the other hand, 2012 has been an up-and-down year for Swansea so far. A year that has seen the Welsh outfit beat Arsenal 3-2 and Aston Villa away has also seen them drop points to Norwich at home and Sunderland. However, their target man Danny Graham is still scoring and the two wingers in Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer are performing, making this a potential three-pointer for the visitors.
Sunday’s other match sees Norwich City take on Manchester United at 1:30pm.